EVAs ERSTGEBURT (EVE's First Birth-Giving) for 3 sopranos, 3 tenors, bass, vocal actor, choir (GEBURTS-FEST, live or tape), boys’ choir, 3 synthesizers, percussion, tape (Sound Scenes), staged with 21 actresses
An under-appreciated choral masterpiece from Stockhausen's 3rd opera. Scene 4 goes from 20 bpm to 640bpm. Good exercise!
At its core, EVAs ERSTGEBURT is a work for voice and electronics, but it obviously has larger forces at work than say, GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE (though both are equally complex in their own way). As the 3rd opera written using the LICHT super-formula, the formulas themselves undergo more "melodic modulation" than in the first 2 operas, which is logical since DONNERSTAG and SAMSTAG had already clearly introduced them in their original forms. In MONTAG, the formulas seem to be more at the service of the drama than ever before, and basically provide a more subtle textural through-line on which to weave this celebration of birth.
The opening scenes feature some very accessible choral and solo vocal writing, which might surprise people more familiar with earlier works like MIKROPHONIE I, but it isn't long before the 1st Birth Aria provides a more "thorny" showcase for soprano trio. The tenor trio in the 2nd Birth Aria is pure fun though, and sounds like Stockhausen's version of a barbershop quartet. Boy's Hullabaloo is a tour-de-force of rhythmic layering, both compositionally and performance-wise - very few works go from 20 bpm to 640 bpm, I think. The vocal acrobatics of LUZIPOLYP probably have certain things in common with the genre known as sound poetry, yet Stockhausen puts his own spin on it as a double-mirror of vowels, consonants, whistling and animal noises. Alain Louafi's performance as the singing actor is positively hilarious and in fact seems to be doing an impression of 6 or 7 celebrity actors simultaneously - a really brilliant interpretation among a fantastic cast.
In MONTAG AUS LICHT, the libretto really begins to deviate from normal grammar (which was very much in use for DONNERSTAG, though the dialogue was sometimes "contrapuntal" at times) and begins to explore phonetically-invented (or fragmented) words. Stockhausen also begins using (in LICHT at least) many more names from global mythology and religion, which would eventually cultivate a kind of cottage industry of analyses focused on sourcing where these proper names came from. Despite the seriousness of a birth scenario, this Act also has some of the funniest and most satirically-pointed moments of LICHT, of which a synopsis can only just hint at. The score is well worth studying, just for all of the "jokes". The CD comes with a very detailed description of the opera's actions and virtually the complete libretto, yet some things he saves as a surprise (which I won't spoil here!). Of course one hopes for a live production to really experience this funny, tragic Act of high and low humor.
I feel that it could be useful to have a discussion-forum on the music of Stockhausen. There are so many people from all over the world, young and old, learned and eager to get into contact with this musical world: musicologists, composers, musicians, music lovers; people who plan concerts - who write books or have to give lectures and so on. So there should be much stuff, many ideas that we can share. And when we have open questions, there may be people who studied just that and could give a hint or a stimulus.
A problem might be the English language, but i feel that is the only possibility that many people who are interested can participate. And we can exercise tolerance to mistakes!